Not just corn: 10 homegrown feedstocks for ethanol

The debate over ethanol often is dominated by corn, our most widely used natural resource for making the fuel.

But there are many different “feedstocks” that can be used to produce the alcohol fuel. Fuel Freedom Foundation has created a new infographic detailing some of those. Of course, corn is in there, but so is natural gas and a variety of plants that don’t just look pretty, they’re useful as a fuel to power our cars, trucks and SUVs.

Companies also are ramping up production of “cellulosic” ethanol. That form of ethanol isn’t fermented from corn starch but from the sugars extracted from a wide variety of plants. Cellulosic ethanol can be made from wood waste, corn stover (the leftovers from corn after it’s harvested) and switchgrass, among other inedible plants.

The infographic is below. Click on the image for a wider view:


Share it, pass it around, use it to debate your skeptical friends!

As David Blume, author of “Alcohol Can Be a Gas!”, outlined in our 2014 documentary PUMP, ethanol can be made from the agave plant, cat tails, sweet sorghum and other plants that don’t require as much effort (and diesel-powered machinery) to grow.

Prickly pear, for instance, “grows all over the world, in huge quantities, especially in places where it’s dry,” Blume said. “We can grow this in poor countries that don’t have a viable agriculture, in arid areas.

“What is the best alcohol crop? It’s the one that’s best suited to your soil and climate where you are.”

Watch that clip from the movie:

2 replies
    • Landon Hall
      Landon Hall says:

      Good point, Alan. We should be producing more “cellulosic” ethanol, made from inedible plants (and the inedible parts of inedible plants, like corn stover). Problem is, that technology is still in its infancy, and it’s going to take years to scale it up so that cellulosic is a big part of the 13 billion or so gallons of ethanol produced every year. No one is starving from lack of corn, most of which is used for industrial purposes or feed. Plenty go go around.

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